SDE MP demands explanation on Riigikogu committee chair's actions

Vice-Chairman of the Riigikogu's Constitutional Affairs Committee Lauri Läänemets (SDE) has sent a letter to the Riigikogu board in protest against the curbing of MPs' legal rights in relation to the bill on a planned marriage definition referendum.

The committee's chair, Anti Poolamets (EKRE), has set up a virtual meeting to discuss the amendment proposals for the marriage referendum bill, awaiting its second reading. Over 9,000 amendments have been tabled, mostly by the two opposition parties, Reform, and the Social Democratic Party (SDE).

Läänemets says the virtual meeting railroads Riigikogu members' rights.

"On what legal basis can a committee meeting be held virtually?" Läänemets questioned.

Läänemets also asked what legal basis gave the head of the committee the right to hold a virtual meeting and ban physical gatherings at the Riigikogu.

Anti Poolamets (EKRE) announced on Thursday, January 7, that he is to organize an exceptional virtual meeting today, Friday, at 12 p.m. The meeting also has a time limit imposed on MPs when speaking, which Läänemets said will halt the democratic process.

Läänemets said: "Poolamets didn't make it a secret that the aim of the meeting is to silence the opposition - microphones will be silenced for everybody who doesn't comply with the unreasonable time limits, which makes it impossible to present the amendment proposals. This is an extremely base plan, one which goes against the Riigikogu Rules of Procedure and the Internal Rules Act, which have been violated for days due to Poolamets' activities."

Läänemets said that SDE are expecting the Board of Riigikogu to present an assessment of Poolamets' activity as soon as possible.

The Riigikogu board has received protests from the opposition stating that they are not being given enough time to explain their proposals. Riigikogu speaker Henn Põlluaas (EKRE), said that the board will discuss the protests soon.

Former Chancellor of Justice Allar Jõks says that the Riigikogu Rules of Procedure and Internal Rules Act require time being provided to explain and present amendment proposals. He said that the time limit isn't specified in the act, but that it should be a reasonable amount of time.

The committee had been tasked with sifting through the over 9,000 amendment proposals, many of which were tongue-in-cheek. If the process of hearing the proposals was not conducted by the end of this week, the bill might not have been given the go ahead for its second reading later in the month, which in turn would jeopardize the planned referendum date of April 18.

The bill passed its first reading on December 14 2020.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Andrew Whyte

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